MakeFest Memories 2 – This Time It’s Personal

A photo of Mark Sabino taking a trip around MakFest and meeting Makers
That’s our Beano – Mark Sabino

Hello everyone, hope you’ve had a good week. Greetings from all of us here at MakeFest Manor as we roll out some more MakeFest Memories for your enjoyment. Well, we hope you’ll enjoy them anyway but that’s really up to you. Last week I rattled on about pizza for ages (food is never far from my mind) but you’ll be relieved to hear that today’s topic is completely different… that’s right it’s cake! Mmmm cake. Oh no sorry it’s not cake, I’m only messing. We have something much more relevant.

This week I’m going to hand over to our very own Dr (it’s only a matter of time) Mark Sabino with his thoughts and reflections on organising Liverpool MakeFest 2017 with the rest of the team. Luckily I don’t need to name everyone else because he ably does that here and rightfully thanks all involved, more trumpet blowing than Louis Armstrong but well deserved. Take it away Mark…

Last weekend on July 24th the third annual Liverpool MakeFest occurred. The day ran smoothly, with little issues at the start. Out of all the exhibitors that were curated by us we only lost a few in the week leading up to it, these things happen but we had more than enough pitches, free standing exhibits and activities in marquees to fill the venue, Liverpool Central Library. It was such a good day that it’s taken me most of the week to come down from the high of it all and I don’t think I am properly there so please excuse the trumpets that are about to go off- rest assured I’m blowing not just my own- it’s only because it’s raining that I’ve decided to sit down and write, anyway…

It’s been nearly seven months since Jen, Denise and myself started talking about it. Jen and I were meeting weekly in the first fews months, with the exception of April when we rested for a bit of it, and with exception to May and June when we sandwiched our regular day volunteering to organising MakeFest with late nights, early starts and weekends too.

We did the first curation for this year from Newcastle’s Maker Faire on the Sunday, on the benches in front of Def-Proc’s Made Invaders Nerf gun range. At the same time we also found out that the Library and Liverpool City Council had secured an ACE bid. So that meant we didn’t have to worry about fundraising for tables, table covers, flyers, posters, banners, badges (medals), marquees, and most importantly food for everyone on the day at the least that was now covered. The rest of the bid goes to towards enabling libraries to provide equipment and workshops for project based learning in communities, and another, smaller “Young MakeFest” in March 2018.

See the full post for more about Young MakeFest 2018.

In the meantime, Hayley from WeHeartTech CIC was curating a youth social media team and applications for inclusive workshops for impaired visitors. Chelsea from Liverpool Girl Geeks was curating a Women In Tech showcase. Adrian from MCQN Ltd and DoES Liverpool was leading TV appearances for us and talking about us at every opportunity from industry events to shoehorning it in on twitter. Lou was busy creating content for three social media streams and linking them all together. Jackie was ensuring my spiritual MakerHome, and a lot of other peoples too, DoES Liverpool, had everything and everyone it needed to showcase itself. Really- I can’t thank these people enough, not only have they promoted this years Liverpool MakeFest but they’ve supported Jen, Denise and me in ways they probably don’t realise. I had no doubt that MakeFest would be a great day but these people were instrumental to it. I hope they all continue in their roles with Liverpool MakeFest because they’ve done more than they realise.

Leading up to the day, we had a social event, not a big one but we got to meet volunteers who’d come through our open call- essentially strangers who were trusting Jen and myself to welcome them in, we’d meet our resident steampunk crew, some makers, and some of people behind MakeFest. A special hats off to the volunteers who had no investment in Liverpool MakeFest who embraced the setup, opening the event and closing it down, thank you Gary, Pat, Laura, David, Philip, Terri, Stuart, Joe, and Joe’s friend! Our steampunks were led by Hilary, Alan and David who did a blinder on the day working to ensure the public were welcomed, including the 200 or so armed forces personnel who were our first guests at 9am! Did that happen?!

Yes it definitely did happen. We had a large influx of army personal at the beginning of the event, luckily it wasn’t a military coup but merely overflow from the Armed Forces Day events happening right outside the library. That was a bit of a surprise. There’s even video evidence of the takeover (it’s been uploaded in portrait by mistake so please tilt your head).

Photo of 4 army service personnel in uniform trying out the Made Invaders target range game.

Boy did they love the Made Invaders shooting range. But enough of my interruptions, sorry Mark. Back to the story…

Every maker was set up and ready to go by 9am, the stalls looked amazing, the space looked amazing, and makers were on form, some of our crafts people weren’t sure what to expect as this was a maker event, not a sales event, but they too embraced their passions and networked through the day speaking about what it is each of them do. People still made sales too and friends. The day got busy and remained so from lunch until well after we were supposed to close. Every Liverpool MakeFest can be summed up, and I paraphrase (because I was really tired when she spoke) Rachel Freire, like so…

Normally at events people come up and look, they don’t talk to you but they might say “that’s cool what does it do?” but this is Liverpool. People don’t want to know what something does they want to know why you’re using that microcontroller, or want to know why you’ve done something the way you have. It’s great.

…I hope everyone had a similar experience, I’ve always thought that MakeFest is about the makers foremost, their ideals, skills, wants, needs and intentions are what define making and how we communicate what it is to each other, the general public are voyeurs we hope to co-opt down a path of learning or reinforce the notion that being passionate about something (geeky) is exactly what you should be, be it for an analogue or digital craft, and it’s meeting these makers that drives it home.

Well I can’t sum it up any better than that last paragraph. If you’d like to read more of Mark’s thoughts on MakeFest 2017 see the original post on his own website. This is only a taster but I think it captures a moment or a vibe if you will, that spirit that makes MakeFest great in my opinion. Sharing, inspiring and the sense of community from the makers.

Join us next time for more MakeFest Memories and be sure to send us your thoughts and experiences, videos and photos too, whatever you’ve got, we want to hear from you! You could be immortalised on these very pages, or pixels I suppose I should say. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Also, don’t forget that entries for pitches at this year’s Liverpool MakeFest on June 30th close in less than 2 weeks! DON’T PANIC! Don’t panic! Keep calm and fill in the web form, that’s all you need to do.

Ciao for now MakeFesters 🙂


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